Worth 1000 Words #14: The Top of the Stairs

At the tail end of a dismal 2020, I vowed to make 2021 better. For my personal life, professional life, and mental health. I can now safely say that not only was 2021 exponentially worse, but 2022 isn’t off to that great of a start either. The downward spiral has continued. I am sure that many others echo this sentiment as the past couple of years have not been beneficial to many. And I spent $67 on gas the other day, which caused me physical pain.

In the midst of the dour 2021 doldrums, I was struggling to find the elusive balance balance in my life between work, personal relationships, family, and hobbies. I barely wrote anything. I didn’t go to the movies that much. I’ve only read one or two books since the start of the pandemic in 2020. I stopped going to the gym because I threw my back out at work and now go to a chiropractor once a week. At work, everything irritated me and I felt like I couldn’t get anything done to my usual standard. I spent entire days (when I wasn’t working) in bed doing nothing but watch YouTube videos and sleep. I felt like I was drowning. And to be totally honest, I’ve not yet found the surface. Almost three full months into 2022, mere DAYS away from turning 30 (a whole separate can of worms) and I am scrambling to gather control over my life. It’s a consistent cycle of self destruction that has been going on for at least the last three or so years and just when I think I am seeing the end of it, my train details and sets me back at square one. To top it off, I’ve begun suffering from compulsive behavior again so I am (TRIGGER ⚠️) peeling the skin off my hands (END TRIGGER ⚠️)and obsessively checking light switches, locks, and power outlets at home AND at work. So I see another cour of behavioral therapy in my future.

But there was a place where I found comfort when the world’s worries weighed me down. A place that may seem somewhat atypical as a sanctuary, or a haven of respite.

Many days, during the holiday slog, I would return home from work, exhausted (I did a lot of 12+ hour days this past season) from trying to stay afloat in an understaffed, overworked environment where irritable, inconsiderate customers continuously pecked at myself and my coworkers like vultures scavenging a carcass, and I would trudge to the top of my stairs, throw my belongings down, and lay down and fall asleep. This often happened at 2 or 3 AM, sometimes at 6 or 7 PM, and various times in between. One time, I spent a whole night at the top of the stairs and woke up very confused and in a LOT of pain.

nap time

The top of the stairs has, thus, become a bizarre place of comfort for me. I doubt that it is healthy to nap there, though I continue to do it – sometimes after work, sometimes after a social event, sometimes just because the crushing burden of stress has ground me down and I simply cannot bear to make it to my bed, and must rest right then and there, like a sad potato. Usually the cat stops to give my hair a sniff and then she goes about her business, totally unbothered by my plight. She will occasionally nap next to me, which is nice.

I thought, after the holidays were over and 2022 began, that it would get better. Sadly, it has not improved in any meaningful capacity – and it seems that this is where I’m at in my life. The other day, I got home from a 14 hour day where I still didn’t finish my work and felt like a complete failure, and when I got home, I curled up at the top of my stairs until the Chinese food I ordered arrived. I also got home from running errands with my sister and mom this past Saturday, and took an hour long nap at the top of my stairs. Unfortunately, I also had my balcony sliding door open and Mother Nature chose that precise moment to throw a tantrum and a torrential squall doused my living room carpet but, I assure you, I slept clear through it. I only woke up right at the tail end, when it also knocked my power out. My cat was not pleased with me.

I am truly fortunate to have (many) coworkers who are patient and understanding and family/friends who love me. They are what has made the past several months semi-bearable. And many have been going through similar tribulations, so they can understand my, admittedly bleak, outlook. And perhaps they have naps at the top of their stairs, too.

I know my life will not be like this forever. I am not quite the Queen of Doom and Gloom I seem like, sometimes. I know there will come a time where I am not continuously exhausted, and looking at each new day with an unsettling mixture of anxiety and dread. There are steps that I must take to better myself, and I am trying, but the steps have been tiny thus far and I still spend entire days in bed when I’m not working. I have struggled before, will struggle again, and there are definitely times where it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is perpetually out of reach. That there is no other side to the riptide I’m stuck in. That the downward spiral is eternal. When I feel that way, I drag myself upstairs and stop, drop, and take a nice little nap. Usually with residual back pain, afterward.

But I am not going to deny myself credit where credit is due. At least I make it to the TOP of the stairs. And that, no matter how small, is an accomplishment.

Killer Swing

I was involved with sports for a significant portion of my adolescence. Basketball, soccer, track, and softball. I excelled in two of those (track and soccer) until a career ending knee surgery at age 15, and now I stick to the treadmill.

On the bright side, I got out of it before I had time to be super invested or think I had a chance of collegiate excellence, not that there was much hope of it in the first place.

And of all my athletic ventures, the sport I wish I had been better at is softball.

I was a half-decent catcher, surprisingly, although it exacerbated said knee issues. It was also assigned to me after I failed at shortstop and outfield. However, I could throw the farthest on the team. And I had a killer swing.

The issue was that I had 0% sense of aim, couldn’t hit a target, and could not connect with the ball to save my life.

It was a shame, really. When I first started out, I was already involved in soccer and basketball, so I looked like an athlete. I remember how excited my coaches looked to have me on the team when they saw me run. And when I swung a bat, they complimented my form with comments like, “killer swing!”

But, all too soon their praise turned to exasperation when they realized, during batting practice, that I could not connect with the ball. Watching the hope drain out of their eyes every time I struck out (which was, unfortunately, often) was pretty brutal, at the time. It was also perplexing to my teammates. I mentioned that I could throw the farthest on my team, and that was true – which is why I started in the outfield. But I also couldn’t aim AT ALL. I once tried to throw someone out at first from left field and threw it so far over the first baseman’s head the runner almost scored. I was a very bizarre combination of incredible strength, powerful image, and a stunning lack of grace and alarming inability to properly regulate my senses and limbs.

The one positive about my killer swing, though, was the fear it put into the eyes of my competition. And I did get some enjoyment out of that, as did my coaches and teammates. I mean, I was young then, but involvement in lots of sports meant that I cut an impressive figure, and I’ve always had a bitch face, so I looked kind of scary. I was able to intimidate, usually in pre-game warm ups, where I could usually hide how terrible I really was and look much more skilled.

So, if I couldn’t hit, I did what I could to put my killer swing to use.

I was usually put into a favorable spot in the lineup (hope sprang eternal for my coaches) and I distinctly remember one instance where I was standing in the on deck circle, probably thinking about snacks, and the opposing coach was watching me swing, and he yelled out to his pitcher, “Watch out for this next one!” and it took all my inner-strength not to laugh out loud. Because, if I wasn’t going to get any better (which I never did), I needed to be able to find humor in the situation.

And I guess the coach’s warning rankled his pitcher, because she didn’t throw the ball anywhere near the strike zone and I sailed through with a walk. I tried to get walked a lot, to be honest, since I knew I couldn’t hit. I also glared a lot to try and intimidate competitors not to mess with me, or peg my weaknesses. And I got by well enough without exposing my inabilities too badly, in most games. But I had fun playing, regardless.

So the moral of the story? Make the best of your situation, and even if you can’t back up your killer swing, find other ways to make your shortcomings work for you.

Tides

I have made it known in the past that I don’t like the beach.

Specifically, I don’t like sand, hot weather, or the blaring sun. I don’t swim in the ocean (or go in it past my knees) and I don’t even really swim in pools. I am a temperate, sensible ~70 degree type girl. I like having seasons. I like trees that change color.

My family and I just took a trip to Myrtle Beach, our first real vacation in two years due to the pandemic. We, despite all being fully vaccinated, were appropriately masked in public, although I can’t say the same for many other folks…

I walked the beach in the mornings, before the sandcastle builders, sun-tanners, and wave-chasers appeared, and before the sun got too hot. Even went barefoot in the sand. There was usually a nice breeze. Pleasant people. One morning I brought my Starbucks because even in South Carolina (the state of my youth, fun fact) I am nothing if not a basic bitch.

In the evenings, I would walk the beach around sundown. Most folks had already departed by that time, and the heat of the day had waned, and the water felt good on my feet. My mom usually came along to hunt shells, and my dad would try and skip flat shells across the water. A couple of times, I even brought a drink along, of the adult variety, since pretty much the only time I consume alcohol is when I am on vacation.

It was so peaceful. Calming. Tranquil. And as someone on the cusp of thirty, whose life is in a semi-state of flux, whose mind is so often in a tumult, I appreciated those morning and evening walks more during this trip than ever before. I treasured them. It was my favorite part of the trip, aside from quality time with my family.

I have felt the pull of many tides, lately. The rough, crashing tides of the evening, creeping further up the shore, creating pools in the sand and washing away footsteps of the past. The morning pull, not as wild but equally insistent, preparing the shore for a new day and carrying the promise of something fresh. The gentle lull of midday. And yet, even experiencing both over the last week, I have not felt torn. I even felt a little bit of clarity.

It was difficult to say goodbye to the beach, this time. I even felt a little emotional during my last morning walk on Saturday. But though I am home now, I will keep that feeling with me.

The feeling of going with the tides, without allowing myself to be lost at sea.

To Say Goodbye

After 25 years, my parents have sold the family home.

It is an inevitable event – my parents never intended to stay in PA forever. They’ll still be here for a little bit longer, but decided to strike while the housing market iron was hot for sellers. In a little over a week, my childhood home will belong to someone else.

It’s bittersweet – and unexpectedly difficult – to say goodbye, even though I haven’t lived there in two years. When the “SOLD” sign first went up, it was surreal. It’s especially exciting for my parents, who are one step closer to their retirement goals. And their realtor is a high school friend of mine, which was pretty cool. But the last month or so has become a flurry of moving sales, boxes, lots of driving back and forth, and my dad trying to unload years and years of sports collectibles to make the eventual move south easier.

There are many things I will miss about the house. The patio, where we spent many nights sitting and laughing or playing board games. The single squeaky stair on the way down to the landing. The pear tree out front, which stank to high heavens, but from which I could occasionally hear an owl hooting in the wee hours of the morning. My childhood bedroom, where I spent many hours writing, creating, and dreaming. The living room, home of many, many movie nights. The list goes on.

Perhaps the thing I will miss the most, as trivial as it sounds, is my pine tree.

I should make it known that the tree is enormous – but it started as a tiny little sapling that I brought home from kindergarten on Earth Day in 1997. We planted it in the side yard, and – though I ran over it with a sled quite a few times over the winters – it flourished. It’s now almost, if not as tall as, the house. Every year, I would marvel as it grew larger, and larger still. Out of all the trees around the house, it has grown the largest, and lasted the longest. It has defied all the odds – from a puny little sapling to a monstrous pine, towering over the driveway.

It will be hard to say goodbye to a house with a quarter century of memories inside – but it feels good to pass it on to someone else. A new family, who will hopefully love and appreciate the house as much as we did, and fill it with even more wonderful moments. And I hope they love my pine tree as much as I did – at the very least, they certainly won’t be running over it with a sled.

Slump

As strange as it sounds, the start of the pandemic in 2020 marks the last time I read a book.

For those who know me well, that’s pretty wild. Because in previous years, also documented on this site, I’ve been able to knock out 100+ books. But I only read 1 or 2 books in 2020, and absolutely none so far in 2021. NONE. AND I LOVE BOOKS!!!

I do believe the impetus for it was because I do most of my reading at the gym, and, when the lockdown hit, my gym was closed. And not going to the gym for months on end caused me to hit a wall with reading, and, admittedly, I have struggled with my desire to go back to the gym now that I am vaccinated.

So there are two slumps I am currently in, really – a reading slump and a working out slump. I’m also in a bit of a writing slump, but I’m working with an editor at the moment to help kickstart my inspiration/motivation, so I won’t go into that. As for the working out, I still take walks with my sister/nephew/mom a few times a week, but it doesn’t have the same effect as hitting the gym, even though I mostly do cardio anyway. And, sadly, this has taken a negative effect on my health, including a 37 pound weight gain over the course of the past year. And now that I’ve gotten used to not going to the gym, it’s hard to go back. And even though I have books on my nook, it’s been hard for me to pick them up.

I guess I am just in an overall slump. Several aspects of my life are kind of stagnant, and I’m finding it difficult to dig myself out of it. I am very fortunate that I did not suffer the same obstacles and struggles that many others did during the pandemic – I still have my job, my family is great, and I overall have a lot to be thankful for – I simply find myself treading water. And that kind of feeling seeps from one thing to another – I find it hard to write when I find it hard to read, I find it hard to cook healthy meals when I find it hard to work out, etc. What little semblance of a routine I used to have has been upended, and I’m scrambling to recover before it gets worse.

I have been exploring going back to behavioral therapy, but I am curious… how do others dig themselves out of a slump? Especially when it has the ripple effect into so many other facets of your life? I’d love to know!

Mini Oscars Reaction 2021

(I usually just jot down my reactions whole watching the Oscars, and this year was no different…. EXCEPT I FORGOT TO POST THIS ON MONDAY. LOL. So here it is many days late.)

Ugh, Carey Mulligan’s dress. 😍 Gorgeous.

Well, the setting is pretty!

I actually saw all the short films except documentary this year so I am stoked to be able to guess winners with more insight.

I, too, remember when Diane Keaton wore a plaid trench to the Oscars. It was great.

Where has Matthew McConaughey been

Ugh. A movie montage gets me every time. 😭

Emerald Fennel ❀️ Great British Compliment-Off between her and Mulligan.

Ooooh Riz Ahmed in that suit. 😍

Amanda Seyfried’s dress is KILLER.

Is Daniel Pemberton Keith Urban’s long lost cousin

Wait, don’t tell me I missed Husavik!!??!! I hope not!!! I didn’t know this started earlier or I would have started watching sooner.

This song is incredible. πŸ”₯ Her voice is so clear!!!

Daniel Kaluuya. That’s it.

Is Trial of the Chicago Seven up for Makeup and Hairstyling? Because Mark Rylance’s wig in that movie was a crime.

ALAN S. KIM!!!!!!! Playing his Switch in the background!!! 🀣🀣🀣

Metallics and semi-bare midriffs seem to be the dress theme tonight

Angela Basset always looks amazing. Even in those sleeves.

Seeing Chloe Zhao reminds me how excited I am to see Eternals!!!

H.E.R. Stun.Ning.

Please, please tell me that performing the songs ahead of time will make the actual ceremony shorter. Please. For the love of all things I hold dear.

EMERALD FENNEL for original screenplay!!!!!! YESSSSSSS SO DESERVED!!!

Ugh, The Father was so heart-wrenching. And Florian Zeller can GET IT.

I suppose I will add Another Round to my “To Watch” list.

Lakeith and Daniel should not have to go against each other but it is what it is, I’m pulling for Daniel but Paul Raci was incredible as well.

Well-deserved. Daniel Kaluuya was spellbinding in that film.

So… We not showing clips of the movies? That’s the part I like the most. 😩

West Side Story? Okay. I guess.

It does take a lot of work to make Viola Davis look like Ma Rainey. Because she is beautiful and did NOT look it in that film.

Oh thank god one less speech

The lovely translator is back! Bong Joon HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

YEEEAH CHLOE ZHAO!!!!!!!! And Swankie is there!!!! 😭

Sound of Metal better win this.

Yesssssssss!!!!!!!

Ugh, all the short films were so good. But I really want Two Distant Strangers to win.

YESSSSSS they should have brought the dog though.

Seriously. No clips of the movies? Wtf, man.

Genius Loci was my favorite and Burrow was the cutest but I am sure it is going to If Anything Happens, I Love You because it was definitely the most powerful.

I recommend all the shorts, live action and animated.

Onward was the last film I saw in theaters before the shut down, it was v good but I think Soul takes it.

I did not have a chance to watch the documentaries this year but NEXT YEAR I SHALL.

Vivre la France!!!!!!

I want an Octopus for a teacher. 😩

A Tenet win!!! What a nice surprise. No one can say it wasn’t a visually stunning movie! And the shortest speech of the night, thank god.

Yuh-Jung Youn! Or Olivia. Or Amanda. I can’t pick.

This woman is a TREASURE. “I’m luckier than you.” LMFAO. Best speech of the night.

That woman looked SO ANGRY lol

Mank! A movie for all us unironic Citizen Kane lovers. Though I thought The Father was a shoo in.

UGHHHHH Sean Bobbit for Judas and the Black Messiah was my fave for Cinematography but Mank was a close second. So no disappointment here.

Helloooooo Mr. Ford!

I understand it’s a huge opportunity and honor to win an Oscar but DEAR GOD they need to put a time limit on the speeches. Let them record a longer version off camera and upload it to the Academy Youtube or something.

❀️ Tyler Perry

Actually disappointed in the score winner, Blanchard is incredible. 😩 His score for BlackKklansman was snubbed and I am STILL SO BITTER. But I digress….

Let’s. πŸ‘Get.πŸ‘Moving.πŸ‘People.

So, no In Memoriam?

Oh no there it is.

😭😭😭😭😭

This show does not need to be over 3 hours. And I LIKE the Oscars. They are BARELY showing clips of anything and it’s too long already.

Best Picture before Best Actor and Actress? Weird flex but okay.

Wow, not expecting the Nomadland win but it is def deserving. A very good film with an intimate feel!

Viola Davis and Frances McDormand are forces to be reckoned with but I am pulling for Mulligan….

Butttt Fran is fine too. 😊

Okay, she is the queen of speeches.

Will Joaquin Phoenix mention cows again?

So we end with no speech because Hopkins ain’t there. Well planned, Oscars. πŸ˜‘

Obviously expecting the Boseman win, and he 100000% deserved it – but people best not blame Anthony Hopkins for this, because he was incredible in The Father. If anything, blame the damn Academy.